The following words were written by Alexander Campbell in
1830. They are as
relevant today as they were then:
“If there was no error in principle or practice, then
controversy, which is only another name for opposition to error, real or
supposed, would be unnecessary. If it were lawful, or if it were benevolent, to
make a truce with error, then opposition to it would be both unjust and unkind.
If error were innocent and harmless, then we might permit it to find its own
quietus, or to immortalize itself. But so long as it is confessed that error is
more or less injurious to the welfare of society, individually and collectively
considered, then no man can be considered benevolent who does not set his face against it. In proportion as a person is intelligent and benevolent, he will be controversial, if error exists around him. Hence the Prince of Peace never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while he lived. He drew it on the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away."
Recently I heard a sermon preached by brother Brian Price at
congregation in Fort Worth, Texas. His lesson was entitled “The Politically Incorrect Gospel.” In his sermon, he noted that no matter what is preached, someone will potentially be offended.
To illustrate his point, he turned to Genesis 1:1. He read the first four words, "In the beginning, God...", and stopped. He noted that he had just offended the athiest, who denies that God exists. He read one more word, "created," and noted that he had offended the evolutionist. He also noted, correctly, that a simple reading and affirmation of the Genesis account now offends some brethren as well.
Imagine living in an age where if we defend the simple creation account against those who advocate the earth evolved over billions of years, we offend our brethren and are castigated for exposing the error.
Imagine living in an age where if we defend Jesus' plain teaching concerning divorce and remarriage (cf. Matthew 19:9) against those who teach error, we offend brethren and are castigated for our efforts.
Imagine living in a time where if we admonish brethren who are dressing immorally, drinking socially, gambling, and generally lowering their moral standards to where they are nearly identical to the world, we offend brethren, and are castigated for upholding the sanctity of our calling.
Imagine living in a time where if we mark the false teacher, convict the gainsayer, expose the errorist, we offend brethren and are castigated for “contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Imagine living in a time which is characteristic of the warnings given by the Apostle, “For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Imagine that if we fulfill Paul's command for action in that scenario, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (vs. 2), we offend brethren and we are castigated for our efforts to rebuke and exhort.
Actually, it is not necessary to imagine such a time, as we are in such a state today. In response to such apathy and tolerance of sin we must continue to preach and defend the truth against error and sin.
Christians who do so will offend others. Exposing sin is what got our Savior killed. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).
Brethren will castigate us for characterizing any Christian as an evil doer or false teacher. However, time and again such were named in the New Testament. Those who are walking unworthily deserve censure. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” To do less would be to do too little. As in any age, we must preach the truth in love, regardless of who we may offend. “Let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). - Sound Teaching.org, October, 2002
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). Heaven’s invitation is extended to all mankind – “Whosoever will…” (Revelation 22:17). In the Four Gospels, Jesus said “Follow me” some eighteen times. Yet, many do not comprehend the demands of discipleship: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.” Jesus calls us, not to a life of sinful sloth, but to a life of sacrificial service (Matthew 16:24-26).Jesus calls those who are successful. Peter, Andrew, James and John were prosperous fishermen; yet, when Jesus called them, they left their nets and followed Him (Matthew 4:18-22). In like measure, Paul gave up position, prominence, and power (Philippians 3:4-8). Sadly, some value too highly the tokens of earthly success, and are thus unwilling to follow the Savior (Luke 18:18-27).
The rich are called to a higher purpose: good works and humble servitude (Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:17-19). Peter and his companions gave up everything for the cause of Christ: possessions, prosperity, peace, and ultimately, life itself. Yet, the return on their spiritual investment was beyond measure (Matthew 19:27-30; Mark 10:28-31).
Jesus calls those who are scoundrels. After having called Matthew/Levi, Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:9-13). To what end? For the purpose of endorsement or acceptance? No. Jesus called sinners to repentance, i.e., a change of heart followed by a change of life (Luke 5:27-32).
Sinners are called to a higher purpose: sanctification and service (Isaiah 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Whatever time we have spent in the service of sin is enough – it is irredeemably wasted and lost. Disciples of Christ must cease from sin, and devote what remains of life to accomplishing the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-6).Jesus calls those who are simplistic. Those who follow him must understand the nature of discipleship (Luke 9:57-62). They must count the cost, and be willing to pay the price (Luke 14:25-33). Spiritual service is not a life of ease, but involves deprivation (1 Corinthians 4:10-16), tribulation (Acts 14:21-22), affliction (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4), and persecution (2 Timothy 3:10-12).
Jesus calls those who are sin-sick. After having thrice denied the Lord, Peter was discouraged to the point of quitting, along with the other disciples (John 21:3). Yet, the resurrected Savior met them on the shore of Galilee, demonstrating once again his majestic power (John 21:4-14). Jesus restored Peter to his apostleship, by repeatedly saying, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).Afterwards, a most interesting discussion ensued. Jesus prophesied of Peter’s martyrdom, and then solemnly said, “Follow me!” Yet, Simon bar Jonah distractedly asked, “What about John?” Rebuking him, Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” In other words, Peter was told to mind his own business, to focus on his own service, to avoid foolish questions, and senseless speculation. Nothing must distract us from following Christ! (John 21:18-22; Titus 3:9)Are you willing to accept the call of Jesus Christ? Just as it was necessary for Jesus to die, we also must die to sin (John 12:23-26). If you are not a Christian, resolve to follow him! Be buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-4).